For someone who's not supposed to talk about his visit to the Star Wars: Episode VII set, Kevin Smith sure has a lot to say. During a Q&A at the Neuchatel International Fantastic Film Festival in Switzerland on Saturday, July 5, the Clerks director and self-proclaimed Star Wars geek rambled on for 11 minutes about his near-religious experience on the London set of the new J.J. Abrams-directed film—and if expectations weren't high before, they certainly are now.
Smith, 43, was invited to the set "out of the blue" by Abrams, a longtime acquaintance. He signed a nondisclosure agreement upon arriving, so he couldn't reveal exactly what he saw—but he could reveal how it made him feel. And it made him feel...a lot.
"I was a little kid who f---ing loved Star Wars who wondered if anyone in the world felt and thought the way I did," he told the film fest audience on background, noting that the movies were his "f---ing religion" when he was younger. That said, even he wasn't prepared for the effect the visit would have on him. "When I went to the set, something happened—[it was] f---ing magical," he shared.
"What I saw, I absolutely loved. It was tactile—it was real," the Chasing Amy director raved. "It wasn't a series of f---ing green screens and blue screens in which later on digital characters would be added. It was there, it was happening."
"I saw old friends that I haven't seen since my childhood, who aren't really friends, but I love them more than some of my f---ing relatives. I saw uniforms, I saw artillery that I haven't seen since I was a kid," he continued. "I saw them shooting an actual sequence in a set that is real. I walked across the set, there were explosions. And it looked like a shot right out of a f---ing Star Wars movie. I watched them do it four times, standing next to J.J. I was like, 'Man, good for you. You're doing it!'"
Things got really real when Abrams' assistant took him aboard the Millennium Falcon. Until that point, Smith said, he was a filmmaker appreciating another filmmaker's work. But the moment he set foot on the ship, he was a kid again.
"My foot went on the landing ramp, and 10 years dropped off my life...Took another f---ing step, another 10 years drop off my life," he recalled. "I take another step, I'm a f---ing 18-year-old again. I take another step, 12. I take another step, I'm f---ing 9 years old when Empire Strikes Back comes out. And then when I get to my f---ing last step, man, I'm 7 years old, standing on the ramp of the Millennium Falcon. And all the s--t I thought about myself and know about myself to be true...was f---ing gone. And I just started crying. I was connected to my childhood in such a primal way."
Of Abrams, Smith added: "He's building a tactile world, a world you can touch. And he's replicating it with all the love of somebody that has the world's greatest collection of Star Wars figures...It is like the Field of Dreams. And if J.J. builds it, we're all gonna come, hard. He's pulling it off."